Tips For the Late Blooming Computer User

By: Lisa Lake

For years I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, and I have only recently
gone back into the work force. I’ve done pretty well for myself, but
I could have really saved some time and frustration in the
beginning if I’d just known a few things about how to use a
computer.

I come from the era of the typewriter and adding machine, and the
computer was really intimidating to me at first. When I first
entered the business world, I lived in constant fear of losing my
document or crashing my machine. The word processor was my
enemy, as was business email. The only thing I could figure out
was how to open incoming messages. This was fine for trading
those cute stories about angels with my friends, but it had my
boss in a rage. Now, those of you who know the difference
between an attachment and a hyperlink can stop reading, but if
you’re as confused as I once was, read on. I’ve got some useful
tips.

First, face your fear. The computer is just a machine. It’s not
going to yell at you or blow up. Don’t be afraid to press a key
or click on an icon (those little picture boxes that link you to
programs and things.) Quite often I would end up staring at my
screen afraid to move, because I didn’t know what to do next and
I was afraid of the consequences of making the wrong decision.

I
wasted so much time. Just dive in. If you end up doing
something that looks funny or wrong, you can almost always find a
solution.

Second, save your work. This is so important in word processing
programs. Have you ever been typing along, only to hit a wrong
key and have your entire document disappear? Boy, I sure have.
This doesn’t have to happen. If you just remember to hit "save"
(under the file menu on most all word processors) every few
sentences, the most you’ll ever lose is a phrase or two.

Third, get to know your undo and help keys. "Undo" simply
reverses the last action completed on the computer. If you hit
something that makes your document go all kerflooey, chances are
you can just click "undo" (under the edit menu usually) a time or
two and you’ll be fine. The "help" menu is another great asset
in both word processors and email programs. Rather than sitting
there wondering how many times you’ve already asked your boss to
explain something, just go to "help" and then type in a question
like "how do I set up columns, or "how do I attach a file," and
the help feature will walk you right through the steps. It can
take you a little time, but it’s better than constantly running
to your boss and looking helpless.

Fourth, make a computer savvy friend. This is so important. If
there’s someone in the office who seems to be really good at the
computer, bring them some cookies or take them to lunch and ask
them if you can have a little of their time. Have them sit with
you for a few minutes while you work on a document or email. Do
this on a few different occasions. Chances are they’ll not only
be able to answer your questions, but they’ll be able to point
out some great shortcuts for you, too.

Computers don’t have to be the unconquerable beasts they
sometimes appear to be. Just face your fear and approach the
machine calmly and logically, and chances are you’ll be doing
fine. The better you are at using your computer, the better
you’ll be at your jobPsychology Articles, and the happier people will be with you!

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